Written by IEEE | March 23, 2016

Virtual reality (VR) might feel futuristic, but it is very much a technology of today. As the VR industry gains traction, so, too, does the 3D device market;different variations of VR accessories — headsets and glasses — continue to hit the market, with entry-level options starting around $20.

Not sure if you’re ready to dive into the world of VR? Start by getting a sense of what all the buzz is about.

How it Works

Remember those ViewMaster toys from childhood? Well, today’s VR experiences are more immersive, but the headset styling hasn’t evolved much. Most of the affordable VR viewers simply operate through an integration with your smartphone. Unlike a ViewMaster where you see a fixed image amplified, attaching your smartphone to your viewer allows you to interact with moving images and scenes with a simple tilt  of your head.

What Do I Need?

Thanks to your smartphone, the technology to activate a VR experience is already in the palm of your hand. Once you’ve downloaded an app to help bring to life immersive video and 360 degree photos, you’ll just need one more piece of equipment: a viewer.

Headsets and Glasses

For an inexpensive and relatively low-tech option, you can go the do-it-yourself route and follow Google’s instructions for creating your own Google Cardboard VR headset.

Google’s not the only name in the VR game. Many other companies are jumping on the VR bandwagon and creating headsets and glasses to build a comprehensive VR experience. Search around to compare different available models available, and look into bluetooth headphones to enhance your audio experience.

Apps

Once equipped with the right VR headset, you’ll need to download an app to activate the full VR experience. Peruse the iTunes store or Google Play and search for ‘VR’. You’ll find everything from video games, movies,  and tours of exotic destinations to educational programs and healthcare tutorials.

While we may not always need headsets and other accessories to bring VR to life, it’s exciting to watch how the evolution of virtual reality is changing the way we live and work.

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